THE FEDERAL Government’s refusal to provide couples in de facto relationships the same property rights as married couples, threatens to derail a national approach to the rules of evidence admissible in court, say the Victorian and West Australian governments.
The attorneys-general in both states last week issued a press release calling for the Federal Government to modernise its views on heterosexual and same-sex couples in de facto relationships.
“Philip Ruddock needs to catch up with the 21st century and most other Australians in his attitudes to legitimate relationships,” Victorian Attorney-General Rob Hulls said in a joint statement with Western Australian Attorney-General Jim McGinty.
Only married couples can access the Family Court to resolve property disputes in most jurisdictions. West Australia is the exception because it has its own Family Court but it could not legislate in relation to superannuation due to constitutional issues.
All states except South Australia have passed legislation referring power to the Commonwealth to enable it to amend existing laws and give people in de facto relationships the same property rights as married couples, including in the area of superannuation.
“Nationally uniform evidence laws are important, because they would provide consistent rules across all courts on issues such as whether people in domestic partnerships are required to give evidence against each other.
“Philip Ruddock wants this reform, but he also wants to perpetuate discrimination by refusing to agree to a definition of domestic partnerships that goes beyond a husband and wife to include de facto couples,” Hulls said.